3.5-hour sailing lessons for two or four people on top-of-the-line sailboats, including instructions on safety and operations
Up to 50% Off Sailing Lessons at Nautic Sailing School
Nautic Sailing School
50% Off Public Yacht Cruise for Two
Bay Breeze Charters
A seasoned crew steers a 51-ft. yacht past Alcatraz and under Golden Gate Bridge during a festive public cruise
46% Off Learn-to-Sail Class
Tradewinds Sailing School & Club
After this course, you will be able to sail 25-foot boat in familiar waters without supervision in light to moderate wind and sea conditions
Red and White Fleet?s inaugural launch in 1892 came courtesy of founder Thomas Crowley, a 17-year-old seafarer whose vision has since spawned one of the Bay Area?s most sought-after guided sightsees. The placid shores of Fisherman?s Wharf host a bobbing quartet of wave-riding vessels, each crewed by a savvy staff of sailors versed in the Bay?s stunning maritime marvels, including rock seals, easily recognized by their Dee Snider wigs and Flying V guitars.
Other tours with Red and White Fleet include the Bridge 2 Bridge Cruise, which sails beneath the Golden Gate and San Francisco-Oakland Bay bridges, its iconic red-and-white boats dwarfed by the imposing structures. Passengers can venture onto the open-air deck to take in unobstructed views of the skyline, or gaze through large windows within indoor cabins furnished with plush seating and a full-service bar. A host of other tours is available; click here to view the full schedule.
Spinnaker Sailing?s crew helps people to experience the San Francisco Bay providing lessons, yacht and sailboat charters, and fractional- sailing boat-sharing memberships. During lessons, staffers challenge students to turn theory into hands-on action, using American Sailing Association guidelines to transform landlubbers into landlubbers who can sail. For those who prefer to outsource steering, Spinnaker Sailing?s captains load up to six passengers for private cruises aboard skippered 30- to 50-foot yachts. Parties can request to sail around Angel Island or stop in at Sam?s in Tiburon to grab drinks or dinner. Meanwhile, Spinnaker Fractional members share luxury Beneteau boats, indulging in the benefits of boat ownership without being bogged down with the cost of insurance, fees, and vessel upkeep.
With its impenetrable fog, gusty wind, and rough currents, San Francisco Bay is known the world over as one of the most challenging places to sail. It's for this very reason that the San Francisco Sailing Company's Sailing School has set up shop here: "If you can sail the San Francisco Bay," they declare on their website, "you [can] sail anywhere in the world." The seasoned instructors instill what they know thoroughly and quickly. In fact, after completing just two two-day classes, students at the school earn their ASA certification and the confidence to sail the Bay on their own. The school offers loftier training, as well, providing the know-how needed to charter a multiday cruise on a big boat or navigate out on the open water.
Since 1978, the experienced captains at Rendezvous Charters have staged picturesque pirouettes through San Francisco Bay waters aboard a fleet of vessels, including two schooners, two yachts, and a slew of motor yachts. The seafaring specialists welcome passengers for cash-bar cruises aboard the Bay Lady, a custom-built schooner that accommodates up to 77 passengers and boasts a cockpit big enough to seat 56 people or 30 pandas with sailor caps. Rendezvous Charters also works with clients to plan private chartered cruises and team-building events for businesses and recreational groups.
The high-end fleet of Hornblower Cruises & Events fills ports up and down the California coast, as well as in New York, with similar eco-friendly extravagance. Founded by environmental engineer Terry MacRae, Hornblower puts its luxe navy to use hosting dining, entertainment, special-event, and sightseeing cruises, as well as journeying to such storied landmarks as Alcatraz Island and the Statue of Liberty. Beyond these cruises, Terry's team champions green practices through the Respect Our Planet initiative, which works to develop and promote earth-considerate practices such as using hybrid boats that draw power from the sun.
US Coast Guard?certified Captain Bob Cole stands at the helm of the 35-foot sloop Bolgeskrekk during Golden Gate Sailing Tours? outings. Designed for all occasions, the tours cruise through the San Francisco Bay for birthdays, anniversaries, or sightseeing trips that explore the rich waters and history of the bay. Captain Bob?who is also Red Cross?certified in CPR and first aid?also holds hands-on sailing lessons for students of all ages and skill levels.
After meeting and falling in love on a Venetian gondola ride, April Quinn and Angelino Sandri decided to bring that romantic experience to others with Gondola Servizio. Drawing from a mutual love for Venetian boating culture and history, they’ve assembled a staff of skilled gondoliers to lead intimate nautical cruises. On these excursions, personal gondoliers in traditional dress serenade passengers with lilting Italian melodies and half-remembered TV-sitcom themes. When not leading standard tours, gondoliers work with professional photographers to orchestrate on-water photo shoots.
Each gondola carries up to six passengers, and sandolos offer a smaller, though still traditional, boat alternative. Gondolas with felzes boast an on-deck cabin where guests sit sheltered from the elements on a love seat behind etched glass windows. A flexible schedule allows significant others to arrange lunchtime jaunts around Lake Merritt or romantic evening cruises beneath the moon’s jealous gaze. While on land, visitors can enter the Bottega Veneziana gift shop inside the Lake Chalet Seafood Bar & Grill, which abounds with locally handcrafted jewelry as well as imported shawls, Venetian chandeliers, and the fossilized remains of the first known cannoli.
The party-loving minds behind Yacht Party Cruises wanted a creative way for locals and tourists to explore a city's late-night atmosphere. Eventually they launched a fleet of luxury yachts into the waters of eight of North America's most lively urban waterfronts. On each vessel, festivities abound as DJs spin everything from hip-hop to Sinatra, inviting passengers to shake a leg in between trips to the full bar or buffet lined with hot appetizers. All yachts boast extravagant details such as wraparound decks, fireplaces, or a glass atrium that hangs above the dance floor offering dancers a direct view of the man in the moon's game of solitaire. Guests can also step onto the decks for fresh air or panoramic views of city's skyline.
Richard Bothwell has hiked Mount Kilimanjaro, scaled Peru’s Cordillera Blanca, and surfed the waves of four continents. But perhaps his greatest feat was establishing the Outdoor Adventure Club in 1996, where he leads others in conquering nature's challenges. He and a staff of seasoned outdoors enthusiasts escort visitors of all fitness and experience levels in local excursions and international vacations, all centered on exploring the great outdoors. On the local level, the guides lead rock-climbing classes at Castle Rock State Park in addition to hiking, backpacking, whitewater-rafting, kayaking, and skydiving excursions. International adventure vacations expose folks to surfing in Costa Rica, rafting in Patagonia, and mountaineering in Peru. The expeditions marry the camaraderie of a social club with the expertise of professional guides, who are each trained in emergency wilderness care in case of squirrel attacks.
A morning photo cruise powered by gentle sunlight and mellow breezes. A spirited afternoon jaunt toward the Golden Gate Bridge. A late-spring sunset trip over waters reflecting the city's skyline and the warm hues of the horizon. No matter the time of day, the waving sails of Afterguard Sailing Academy's vessels ferry passengers on adventures around the sun-kissed waters and iconic landmarks of San Francisco Bay.
Thanks to the academy's team of seasoned captains, tours are only one way to experience sailing's thrills. Their instructors also teach comprehensive American Sailing Association certification courses, which aim to transition ordinary passengers to crew members and skippers for more independent sailing adventures of all types. As students progress, instructors teach more advanced lessons, such as bay basics and ocean sailing. Aside from these lessons, the captains also run a nonprofit sailing academy for youth.
Every day, millions of tons of snowmelt from high up in the Sierras rushes hundreds of miles downstream and pours into the San Francisco Bay. There, it slams into a surge of seawater to form an ecosystem at once constant and constantly changing. It?s there that the photographers and naturalists of SF Bay Whale Watching set out to observe and capture stunning images on daily adventures.
Onboard the stalwart Kitty Kat, captain Joe Nazar skippers wildlife-seeking tours that might spy migrating whales, local sea lions, or killer whales. The spacious deck and large-windowed cabin make beautiful views bountiful. While a naturalist lectures, the ship sails past such landmarks as the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island.
Captain Josh Waldman has steered vessels over more than 35,000 miles of international ocean, but as the head of Captain San Francisco, he sticks to the homier waters of San Francisco Bay and coastal California. In luxurious sailing yachts outfitted with bunks and lounge areas, he leads chartered voyages for special events, private parties, and whales too lazy to swim their daily commute. The multitalented captain keeps his yacht in tip-top condition with his own maintenance expertise and can converse with both Spanish- and English-speaking customers.
Whether you want to sip a glass of chardonnay at a family-owned, boutique winery or to stand next to a 600-year-old redwood in Muir Woods, Extranomical Tours can make it happen. And the tour company’s smaller vehicles—minibuses and 13- to 15-passenger shuttle vans—render the journey a more intimate, flexible experience. What began as a single van and one man's determination to showcase the Bay Area to friends and tourists has grown into a fleet that leads acclaimed tours across northern California. Dawn Cuthbertson of the Huffington Post went on the Wine Country and Redwoods Escape tour, one of the company's many offerings "Get your camera ready as you wander through the fog-drenched forest," she suggested to future visitors, describing the "hundreds of shades of green" visible in the cool, emerald forests.
The company trains its guides individually, regularly testing them on local knowledge and tidbits such as how long it takes the fire department to rescue a cat from a giant sequoia. The team also offers tours of Alcatraz, Monterey, and Carmel, as well as ferry- or boat-based adventures and walking or biking tours.
The San Francisco Maritime National Park Association welcomes boating enthusiasts and history buffs alike to board antique ships—including a 1930s sloop yacht, an 1890 steamboat, and a nineteenth-century wooden-hulled scow schooner—docked at piers in and around the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. The association even lays claim to a pristine World War II submarine, the USS Pampanito, which sees more than 110,000 visitors every year and boasts National Historic Landmark status for its world-class example of maritime preservation. They've even restored and repaired the equipment inside to full operation for an immersive and realistic experience. Another huge draw is the Balclutha, a moored 1886 square-rigged tall ship with three massive masts.
The land-locked Maritime Museum, housed inside a WPA-built structure designed to look like an ocean liner, keeps the seafaring fun going with hands-on activities and exhibits that explore the city's nautical past. In addition to answering questions and helming educational programs, staff members also recruit volunteers to pitch in aboard and around the old ships, where they can learn firsthand how to care for museum pieces, practice public speaking skills, and memorize nautical terms that will help make their stories of pirate heritage way more believable.
If you want to learn how to be a safe, knowledgeable sailer, then you can take a course at any sailing school. But if you want to be a safe, knowledgeable sailer who also knows how to get a boat to move faster than a rumor travels around a knitting circle, you might want to consider taking a sailing course from Nautic Sailing School's instructors.
Captain Dan, who has been sailing for more than 40 years, races various types of boats, and he owns a Catalina 30 that carried him to victory during the 2004 and 2009 Catalina 30 Nationals. He works alongside Captain George, who has also raced sailboats, and Captain Robert, a published sailing educator and race tactician who has trained more than 3,500 sailing instructors worldwide.
They lead everything from six-hour Discover Sailing lessons, which introduce complete beginners to the sport, to basic and bareboat cruising courses. Those who take those three- and four-day courses may even qualify to crew with Nautic Sailing School on special occasions.